Monday, August 01, 2005

A Complaint Letter

I just hope the LTFRB people would really read my letter and take some actions. If not, well I'm posting it here so a lot of you would know that there are still citizens like me who simply don't take things as they come and forget about them. Otherwise, there really would be no changes for the better for this beloved country of ours.

LTFRB Chairman
Ma. Elena Bautista

Dear Ma’am,

Last Saturday, July 30, I rode an airconditioned RRCG bus with plate # TWR 314 from SM North Edsa to Alabang around 12 noon to 1:30 pm.

I would like to inform you of what happened because I feel that my fellow passengers and I have been unjustly obliged to pay fares that shouldn’t have been collected. I’m sure your agency is the right one to report this to.

I was traveling with my six-year old son who just had his music lessons in UP Diliman. When we boarded the bus, the conductress came near and I told her I’ll be getting off at Alabang. She asked me “Ilan?” [How many?] and I answered “Isa” [One] because I plan to have my little son sit on my lap if ever the bus gets crowded. She gave me tickets for P72.00. Not knowing how much really are the fares from that area since it’s been quite a while that I traveled from there to Alabang, I paid the amount. But I had a niggling feeling that something is not right because I usually pay P35.00 from Alabang to Philcoa which is not really that far from SM North.

When the conductress passed me by, I asked her, “Ale, magkano ho ang bayad galing [Ma'am, how much is the fare from] SM North pa-Alabang?” She told me “P36.00 isa [each].” So I inquired “Eh bakit ho dalawa ang siningil nyo sa akin?" [Then why did you collect fares for two people?] Without any warning, she shouted at me “Aba, may bayad na yan! Alam ko dahil inspector din ako!" [That kid should already be charged! I know because I'm also an inspector!]” I was taken aback by her defensive tone of voice. “Eh di sana ho ang kinuha n’yong bayad pang-estudyante man lang,” [Then you should have charged him for student fare.] I replied. Again she shouted at me “Walang pasok ngayon! Nagtitiket lang ako ng pang-estudyante pag may pasok!” [There are no classes today! I only give student discounts when there are classes!] And she walked away in a huff. Would she have listened if I told her that my son came from a class? I doubt.

I opted not to continue the discussion. I didn’t want to stretch the argument with a person who apparently does not see reason. On my part, if she had only stated outright when she collected my fares that she’s also charging my son because that is their policy, then I wouldn’t have argued even if I had felt taken advantage of. In the first place, she shouldn’t have asked me “Ilan” [How much?] if she has already decided to charge my preschooler’s fare.

May I ask, why in the world did you guys in LTFRB mandated that student fares are not applicable during weekends??? Does the status of kids change during Saturdays and Sundays? How come nobody even thought about make-up classes or extra-curricular school activities like Scouting or CAT, and in my son’s case his music lessons, that are sometimes held on weekends?

Also, what are your rules about fares for children? Isn’t it understood that preschoolers can be carried on parents’ laps and should not be charged for fares? Last Saturday was the very first time I experienced paying for my youngest son’s right to ride a public vehicle. We have traveled every weekend since summer from Laguna to Manila and some of the provincial bus conductors even ask politely "Mam, ibabayad ho ba yung bata o kakalungin?" [Ma'am, are you paying for the child's fare or would you be carrying him?] At least they inform people that they have a choice. But most of the time, conductors take little kids for granted and ask only the adults to pay fares.

Before I got off the bus, another mom who has two little kids with her (around ages 5 and 6) sat down behind me. I couldn’t help but ask if she was also forced to pay for her kids’ fares. She confirmed my suspicions adding that she had argued too with the conductress to no avail.

I know P36.00 is just a small amount and I can simply let it go with the fatalism that most Pinoys [Filipinos] nowadays believe “Ipasa-Diyos na lang.” [Let God handle it.] But I can’t help thinking of other commuters who can barely afford to ride busses and those people who will be future victims of the unscrupulous conductress and others like her thus this complaint.

I repeat, it was an RRCG bus with plate number TWR 314. On the driver’s sun shield, there’s a red sticker of the name “Alex”. The conductress con inspector has short hair, may be in her late 40’s or 50’s and has moles on the top and bottom part of her lips on the right side of her face. She was wearing a military beret, has a brown Seiko watch and wore “Sketchers” shoes.

I would also like to add that I have ridden RRCG busses before who cut trips. They have Fairview signs when they start off from Metropolis in Alabang, but would tell the passengers to get off in Cubao and transfer to another bus because they’re changing destination to Monumento. Even my aging mother who once accompanied my son to Diliman, and whom I specifically instructed to ask the driver first before boarding the bus if it’s going directly to Philcoa, was asked to get off in the middle of EDSA. It is so inconvenient especially when you have a kid with you!

I am reporting this because I know a lot of these things happen and nobody seems to be doing anything about it. I hope that you would take action and investigate the matter. Please have pity on common citizens whose desire is to be treated fairly in spite of all the shortcomings and bad happenings in our country today.
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